Review – Fujifilm X-T2 For Landscape Photography

It has been 2 years since I wrote my Review of the Fuji X-T1. If you are new to the Fuji system I would recommend reading this post first to understand my affection for Fuji.

The X-T1 has been my primary camera all this time, and I have had no regrets moving to this system. I will admit, a bump up in the megapixels was one of the few things I was pining for. Fuji has answered with a 24.3mp X-trans sensor that will have many questioning if they really need a full frame sensor.

Fuji X-T2 and 16-55 f/2.8 - 1/25 Fuji X-T2 and 16-55 f/2.8 – 1/25″, f/8, ISO 200. Click to see full resolution.

Resolution

One of the biggest reasons to consider an upgrade from the X-T1 is, of course, the increase in resolution. Going from 16.3mp to 24.3mp is a major jump. This finally puts it in close competition with most high megapixel cameras out there. No, it is not a 5Ds R, or a A7RII, but how many of us really need that many megapixels? The native resolution of this camera will give you a print of 16×24 at 240ppi. The files are so clean and sharp, that I would not hesitate to resample the files to 30×45 and produce beautiful prints.

100% crop from the image to the left, click to see full size

ISO Performance

I was hoping for a large improvement in the high ISO department, but this seems to be an area where cropped sensors cannot quite compete yet. I am not saying that it is bad, although, compared to the new Sony’s it doesn’t hold a candle. On the other hand, it is very similar to the results you would get from a D810. Considering the big boost in megapixels, I am still happy with the images this camera can produce at night, the grain is finer than before, and there are more details in the shadows.

Below is a crop of un-editied raw files from the X-T1 and X-T2 for comparison. I did not resize either image, I simply opened them in Photoshop and zoomed to the same level, and matched up the screenshots the best I could. (X-T1 on the left, X-T2 on the right)

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X-T1
X-T2
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The image below is to show what can be done with proper technique and post-processing with the X-T2.

X-T2 with Rokinon 12mm f/2. Two images blended together for dynamic range and quality. Sky was taken at ISO 6400, 20 X-T2 with Rokinon 12mm f/2. Two images blended together for dynamic range and quality. Sky was taken at ISO 6400, 20″, f/2. Mountains taken at ISO 3200, 4 minutes, f/2 with long exposure noise reduction turned on. Click image to see full resolution.

Dynamic Range

I have always been impressed with the dynamic range of the Fuji raw files, and the X-T2 does not disappoint.  In general, I do not have to blend images except in extreme circumstances. Below is an image I bracketed, the properly exposed image (on the left), the underexposed (right) was raised 4 stops. I zoomed in very close so you can see there is noise brought out of the shadows in this extreme adjustment, but no noise reduction has been applied (or sharpening), there is some color lost in the greens, but with some post processing this could be a usable image even with such an extreme adjustment.

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Proper
Under
← SLIDE →

Another example of an extremely underexposed foreground that looks unusable at first blush. I raised the exposure by one stop, pulled the shadows to 100, and the highlights to -100 and suddenly it looks very good. Granted, if you zoom into the foreground it will be noisy due to another extreme example, but potentially usable. These examples are to show what is possible, in most situations you will not see noise when pulling shadows out of a properly exposed file. For maximum quality on this image I would take one exposure for the sky, one for the foreground, and blend them together in Photoshop.

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Under
Shadows
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If you are interested in looking at the RAW files, you may download the unedited versions here.

Lenses

In my previous review I raved about the sharpness of all the lenses in the Fuji lineup, and while I do stand behind that, things have changed a little bit with the higher resolution sensor. Some of the lenses do show some weakness with the extra megapixels, because of this I have moved over to the professional line of XF lenses. That’s not to say that you have to upgrade if you get the X-T2, but some lenses like the 18-135 and 50-230 will show some softness now.

For maximum quality I would recommend the following lenses to have a complete range for landscape photography:
10-24 f/4, 16-55 f/2.8, and 50-140 f/2.8. This gives you a full frame equivalent range from 15mm-200mm

For a lighter kit that still has incredible quality, I would recommend this:
10-24 f/4, 18-55, and 55-200. This gives you a full frame equivalent range from 15mm-305mm. The 18-55 and 55-200 have a variable aperture, thus not quite the quality of the 2.8 lenses, but still very good.

I also added the Fuji 100-400 to my bag, not just for wildlife, but for intimate scenes. I was surprised at how much I used the lens this fall, a number of photos in this post were taken with this lens. I will be doing a more in-depth review of this and the other XF lenses in the future.

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 100-400 @ 400mm - 1/340 Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 100-400 @ 400mm – 1/340″, f/5.6, ISO 200. Click to see full resolution.

 

Weight

Weight is still a big concern for me, this year I decided to take a hit in the name of quality f/2.8 lenses. Last year I was at 2.95 lbs, and this year I am at 5.66. Yes, it is nearly double, but still much lighter than the equivalent Canon, Nikon, or Sony kits. Below you can see the weight comparisons of f/2.8 lenses on the left, and f/4 lenses on the right. For f/2.8 lenses you can see Canon and Nikon are approaching double the weight, and Sony a little over 2 lbs heavier.

Naysayers will complain that I am not comparing apples to apples here, full frame cameras versus a crop sensor does not make sense, right? I would have thought the same thing before I picked up the Fuji over 2 years ago. As I stated in the previous review, the X-trans sensor is something different, and I really believe it can compete with the full frames, this combined with incredibly sharp lenses produce phenomenal files.

Cost

As you can see in the above chart, the Fuji system costs nearly half of the other options!

Functionality Improvements

Depth-of-field Scale

You can now select a new setting for ‘Pixel’ or ‘Film Format’. This only changes the display of the DoF scale, ‘Film Format’ shows you what will be in focus on an 8×10 print when viewed from 1 foot away. If you never print larger than 8×10, this setting will work for you. If you print larger or want to ensure your images will be sharp on a large screen, you will want to change the setting to ‘Pixel’. This is a more conservative setting to ensure what is shown on the scale will be nice and sharp. The DoF scale on the X-T1 was more conservative than the new ‘Film Format’, but ‘Pixel’ is even more conservative with the additional megapixels on the X-T2

Three ‘Auto ISO’ Settings

There are now 3 auto ISO setting to choose from quickly, from which you can have 3 different minimum shutter speeds, this is great to have for different focal length lenses when shooting handheld. If I’m using the 100-400 I’ll use an auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed of 1/500, unfortunately, this is the fastest shutter speed you can set it to for some reason, but it will do for most situations.

4K Video

I do not work with video so I have no opinion here. I played with it a little bit and the video appears to be phenomenal, plus the autofocus worked shockingly well. Some specs below which are largely greek to me…

4K UHD video at up to 30 fps for up to 10 min (30 min with booster grip)
F-Log flat profile and 4K out over HDMI

Joystick

This is a massive improvement that makes the camera a joy to use again. It now takes a fraction of a second to change your focus point with your thumb. No longer do you have to push a button to activate the focus points, move the point, and then commit it. Just move the joystick and you are ready to go, huge for wildlife, and a great improvement for landscapes.

Locking Wheels

The wheels for ISO and Shutter Speed now have locking buttons, which are thankfully much improved over the X-T1 which required holding down the center button to change settings. Now the wheels can be locked or unlocked easily. When I need to change settings quickly they remain unlocked, and when I’m working at a slower pace they will stay locked down so I do not inadvertently change my settings.

Tilting screen

The tilting screen has been greatly improved over the X-T1, with a simple addition of being able to tilt while in portrait orientation. I use the tilting screen all the time when shooting low angles with an ultra-wide lens, but I often shoot in portrait when doing this. Now I can get low to the ground without having to lay down to see my screen.

Exposure Compensation

An additional ‘C’ mode has been added, which allows you to change exposure compensation with the front wheel rather than the knob. If you click the wheel, it locks in your exposure compensation until you click it again. While not a feature I would necessarily use in landscape photography, it is great to have for wildlife where you need quicker access than reaching your hand up to turn the wheel.

Eye Cup

The eye cup has been improved to be something in between the former stock eyecup of the X-T1 and the upgraded long eye cup. It is a great blend of the two for keeping sunlight out, and not sticking out so far that it gets torn off when pulling it out of your bag.

My Menu

A new addition is ‘My Menu’ where you can add commonly used menu items. Once you add something to this menu, it will be the first thing to pop up when you click the Menu button. So far I have added Long Exposure Noise Reduction, Wireless Communication, and Shutter Type. I only wish I could add Format Card to the menu.

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 10-20 @ 10mm - .6 Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 10-20 @ 10mm – .6″, f/8, ISO 200. Click to see full resolution.

Areas that needed improvement on the X-T1:

In my previous post, I talked about some things that needed improvement, and many of them have been implemented.

Bracketing

Update: With the v2.0 firmware this is possible! You can now bracket 9 frames anywhere from 1/3 to 3 stops apart, that is a potential of 12 stops on either side, this is no longer a feature anyone could complain about.

It is still limited to 3 shots, but you can do up to 2 stops apart now. I still could care less about this because it is so easy to turn the exposure compensation dial while watching the viewfinder/LCD and seeing the exposure in real time, rather than relying on bracketing. With the dynamic range of this camera I can typically capture everything in one shot, in high dynamic range situations I can take one for the foreground and one for the sky, that is all that is needed in most situations.

Playback button

I made a request to have the playback button be accessible with my right hand, while the playback button has remained on the left, they have given us the option to program any button to be playback. I programmed the AE-L button (which I never use) to bring up playback, this works great.

RGB Histogram

UPDATE: In the v3.0 firmware update they finally added an RGB histogram!

ISO 100

We have this in raw now! It is still considered out of spec, as it is in the ‘L’ or low mode, but it is great to have the option when you need a longer exposure.

Custom buttons

This has been improved, and there are more options to choose from, like setting the playback button.

Focus Peaking

Update: I use focus peaking all the time now for focus stacking quickly. There are circumstances it could be a little more clear, but most of the time it works fantastic.

Exposures greater than 30 seconds in ‘T’

Update: They finally did it! In v2.0 firmware you can select exposures longer than 30 seconds, the first rendition is slightly limited in that you can only select 1/3 stop increments up to 1 minute, after that it goes to full stops (2 min, 4 min, 8 min, 15 min) it’s not perfect, but a great start!

Dual SD card slots

Yes! They can be used as either an overflow or a backup, I prefer the latter.

More film modes

I do not use the film modes so much anymore, I stick to Provia 95% of the time. The only film that has been added is Acros, which is a great black and white film simulation that I do like to use when visualizing in black and white, as you can see your scene in black and white through the viewfinder.

Hyperfocal button

Nope. Maybe a crazy idea on my part anyway.

Areas That Still Need Improvement

Formatting Cards

I use the second sd card slot as a backup, so when I download my images I need to format both cards, unfortunately, the option is buried in the menus, and you can only format one card at a time. It takes a minimum of 13 button clicks to format each card, what a pain! At least give us the option to format both cards at once.

Update: A few commenters noted that there is a shortcut to format the cards easily, simply hold down the trash button for three seconds, while still holding down the button, push in or ‘click’ the rear command dial. This brings up the format menu quickly, but you still have to do each card individually, I would still like an option to format both in this menu.

 

Wildlife, Action, etc.

The AF system in the X-T2 received a major overhaul, it now has 325 AF points, and 169 of those have phase detection. Which makes it one of the best AF systems on the market. I found the AF to be extremely fast and accurate, for those of you that need this type of performance, this is no longer a reason to overlook this camera.

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 100-400 1.4x @ 560mm - 1/1000 Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 100-400 1.4x @ 560mm – 1/1000″, f/8, ISO 500.

The camera has a frame rate of 8 fps, which is more than enough for most. If you need more, you can add the Fuji Vertical Grip to bring the frame rate up to 11 fps. This is approaching the speed of Nikon and Canon’s flagship models.

The new Fujifilm XF 100-400mm lens will give wildlife photographers the reach they need in most situations. This is an equivalent focal length of 150-600mm on full frame. This can be paired with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, giving an equivalent reach of 840mm with the 1.4x, and 1200mm with the 2x. Granted, this will make the lens very slow (f/8 with the 1.4x, and f/11 with the 2x), so do not expect to be using these in low light. Hardcore wildlife photographers will want to stick with Nikon or Canon to get the fast, long lenses. For the rest of us that are not willing to spend 10k on a lens, this is a great solution.

Macro

Macro is still lagging behind, but there is a new lens on Fuji’s roadmap for 2017, which is an 80mm f/2.8 macro. This will be a great focal length and satisfy any macro photographers needs. In the meantime, you can use the Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 Macro, which is what I have been using. It is intended for full frame, so it is a big, heavy lens. There are also extension tubes available which I use with the Fuji 50-140 for macro.

L-Plate

The L-Plate from the X-T1 will not work on the X-T2, this is because they moved the mounting bolt to be directly under the lens rather than offset. Currently, the only L-Plate designed for this camera is the BXT2 by Really Right Stuff, this is what I am using, and I can tell you that it is a great design. All ports are accessible, and they have an adjustable L-Plate, which you can loosen a bolt, and slide it to your desired position. Plus it is very solid when in portrait orientation, I could not say this about the Markins I have on the X-T1.

Post Processing Difficulties

Developing raw files from the X-Trans sensor can be difficult at times, especially with Adobe’s software. Lightroom and camera raw struggle with sharpening on these files, there are other options to get the sharpest file possible, one is using Iridient X-Transformer in conjunction with Lightroom, this is the best option if you are committed to Lightroom. I have chosen a different route and switched to Capture One Pro, all the images in this post were processed using this software. I have found the sharpness to be infinitely better, along with improved color and contrast.

Conclusion

Fujifilm continues to blow me away with their commitment to creating exceptional quality camera bodies and lenses. I loved the X-T1, and now I love the X-T2 even more, which is saying a lot. I regularly work with Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras with my clients, and it is a constant reminder of why I switched in the first place. The Fuji is simply a joy to use, I have fun every time I lay my hands on it, I cannot say this about any of the other brands. This should be your number one deciding factor when choosing a camera system; do you love using it? The feel of the camera, the intuitive functionality, and the gorgeous images with three-dimensional depth and stunning colors are what pulled me to the Fujifilm system. It is not right for everyone, some do not like the smaller size in their hands, others cannot bear the thought of using a cropped sensor. The quality of the images are superb though, only the pickiest of the pixel peepers will be disappointed.


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46 thoughts on “Review – Fujifilm X-T2 For Landscape Photography”

  1. Maxim Podbereznyy

    What sharpness are talking about? Make 100% crop at your first photo and look at yellow foliage – it’s total mush. You would not see there even a bunch of leaves, only yellow worms. I’m a Fuji user and this artifact drives me crazy. Of course if you look at your pictures from 3 meters then they look awesome, but when closer than they don’t have enough details and sharpness of those details. Have a look at Nikon D810 pictures and see how much details are there, fuji just give a total mess in pictures

    1. Still waiting for an answer to your post. Would be interesting to know what happened. IMHO the yellow it oversaturated to the extend the structure gets lost, not an X-Trans problem.

      1. Maxim Podbereznyy

        Konrad, what else do you want to know? 🙂 I have X-T10 and love it for cityscape and travel photography, but hate for landscape photography! I have fixed primes and 16-55, but it does not save me from the lack of details in foliage and grass. Even branches on trees look very weird. It is discussed thousands of times on the web and it is the commonly known problem. Using different software like Iridient or Capture One can help, but not always and they bring other issues. My friend gave me RAW files from his journey to Alps captured by Nikon D750 and I was shocked by the level of details! No mushy grass, no plastic in mountains.. Probably Fuji just makes cameras for street photography. By the way I took Xpro2 for testing and went to a forest – got total disappointment! Seems like they just added scale to the sensor leaving all issues from X Trans 2 intact. X-Trans 3 did not show me any extra details in leaves or trees. Returned it next day without any regret

        1. Thanks for your answer, Maxim. I am evaluating small cameras and find the Fuji X colors exceptional at times but then when I see the total mess above I think that I better go with an Olympus OM-D even if I will not get maximum IQ compared to Fuji (in those cases when it shines…). You say: “Using different software like Iridient or Capture One can help”, but not always and they bring other issues.: relying on your honesty I’d say goodbye Fuji since I can not afford a Fuji for this and a Olympus for that. I would have compromised with the longer workflow via Iridient but if not even Iridient brings a permanent solution it would be too much for me to go through that much of PP. Thanks, I will keep my old FF a little bit longer until Fuji solves the issue or another brand with an excellent small camera comes around the corner.

          1. Maxim Podbereznyy

            Konrad, I agree that fuji colors are great, especially I like green :). I purchased Iridient Developer and couldn’t work with it because of the complexity or inefficiency, I don’t know. Happily next day I found another software from Iridient – X-Trans Converter and it costed just $30. I tried it a little and from the first glance it did a great job to recover a lot of details from RAF, however I have to test it more to be absolutely sure that this converter can do the best with fuji. I have a photographer license for Photoshop+LR and seems to get rid of LR at all if Iridient X-Trans Converter can substitute LR in terms of RAF conversion. It outputs files in DNG format, native to Photoshop and then I do all adjustments with TKpanel and it provides much more flexibility in fine tuning in comparison to LR, although PP is more complex itself. By the way, my friend – a professional photographer – changed from Nikon to Fuji X-T1 and after some time was disappointed by X-Trans development and turned back to Nikon. However now he buys X100E because he misses Fuji colors :). If Fuji was more friendly with RAF conversion than it would be the best camera. For now it can be used mostly with Jpeg OOC

          2. Thanks. I will test the X-T2 over a weekend and make up my mind. If the Acros and color JPEGs are pleasing then I could make a decision in favor of the Fuji.

          3. I will say that Adobe has struggled with the processing of X-trans files, you end up with worms very easily. The latest version of LR has made improvements and I can sharpen files better now, I have found the best settings to an amount of 60, radius of 1.0, and a detail of 5. It is the detail slider that quickly gives you worms unfortunately. I do additional sharpening in Photoshop because this is not a lot of sharpening.

            I did compare my images with those from my partners D610 and D500, and there was no difference in sharpness of the foliage. You will of course notice a difference with the D810/a7rii because of the additional megapixels. Like I said at the end of the review, pixel peepers may not be happy with Fuji, but I am creating great imagery, printing it large, and very happy with the results.

  2. While I’m pondering over your reviews of the X-T1 & X-T2, lenses you’ve mentioned come to mind. Aside from the difference in f stop, how would you compare results you get from the
    18mm f/2.0, and the 18mm end of both the 18-135 & 18-55?

    1. 18mm on the 18-135 is the weakest point of the lens, the corners are extremely soft. When I was using this lens I tried to avoid using this focal length at all, the 18-55 on the other hand is very good, and of course the 16-55 is phenomenal

      1. Thank you for reply. This is going to be a tough choice. The X-T1 and a nice lens or just the X-T2 body. I need more choices like this that are win-win. 🙂

        1. The X-T1 and 18-55 are a great combo,” only $1300 for the kit right now with the discounts http://amzn.to/2gfFM5f it’s a very good lens that will still work well on the X-T2 if you upgrade down the road

  3. disqus_axVw1fh8RR

    There’s a boatload of image processing on these images. Can you maybe make some available with less processing?

  4. Excellent review David. I thought I remember you reviewing the Fuji XT10 as well but can’t seem to find it. If you haven’t reviewed it, but have used one, I’d appreciate your opinion. Thanks & happy holidays.

    1. No, I never did review that. I have some friends who purchased it and are very happy with it, same sensor with a few less options for control on the body. The XT20 should be coming out soon as well.

  5. Nice reviews and pictures.

    However, the comparison table is a little bias… the 5Ds is 50 MP, and the Fuji 10-24 F4 (on FF 15-35 F5.6) is not quiet equivalent to the FF EF 11-24. Nor is the Fuji 18-55 F2.8-4 (FF 27-82 F4-5.6) is to the EF 24-70 F4.

    One could make the comparison using the 80D:
    80D + EF 10-22 + EF 17-55 F 2.8 + EF-S 55-250/4.0-5.6 IS II
    1000€ + 500 + 500 + 250€ = 2250€
    730g + 385 + 645g + 390g = 2150g.

    The Fuji X-T2 is probably a great camera and really great for landscapes (especially that the X-Trans should give better colours and no moiré). So one does not need to “bias” the comparison charts.

    To my mind, it makes the whole article a little bit less valuable as without comparison. I hope you read my comments as a constructive feedback.

    Regards

  6. lobotomisedjournalist

    Comparing the Canon 6D set with the heavy XT 2 set is the nearest comparison to make. The f2.8 lenses on the XT 2 are the equivalent in focus separation to the f4 Canon lenses. The Canon set has the advantage that the 16/35 f4 will give more focus control than the 10/24 f4, more importantly the excellent 24/70 f4 has very good IS whereas the Fuji 16/55 does not, although it has a usefully wider range. The Canon set weighs only slightly more than the Fuji 2690 v 2567 and costs appreciably less. Anyone who prefers an optical finder would find the Canon 6D an easy choice, probably even more so when the new model comes.

  7. Nice work on the review. I just switched from 810’s to the XT2 and I’m very impressed. The Fuji sensor lacks the outright talents of the D810, but the Fuji lenses are brilliant and the lower weight makes the whole system a much more user friendly experience.

  8. Great photos! love the long lens shots, also your effort in putting together all the combos with weights and prices. There is a shortcut for formatting by the way – hold the trash button for 2-3 seconds and then press rare command dial. Happy shooting!

  9. Wonderful post. I took your advice and read your T1 review first to get your perspective, so to speak. I love the Fuji system, having started with an XPro-1 a few years back. I sold it and got an XE2S, trying to save some bucks. Not thrilled and am presently tossing up the XPro-2 vs. T2 as the next body. Do you have any reviews of the XPro body that might help me? Many thanks for your insights.

    1. The Xpro-2 was really made for street photography, so unless you are just doing this, I would definitely go for the X-T2, it has better features and it is cheaper. For landscape photography there is no reason to get the Xpro2

  10. Awesome post! One comment about formatting cards: in playback, try holding the trash button for a couple seconds and then pushing in on the wheel between the AE-L and AF-L buttons. That’s a shortcut to the format card menu. Might save you some time hunting through the menus… 😉

  11. Hi David.
    Thanks for the review and I must say I really like your pictures.

    One thing I don’t understand however is why not make the comparison with a 24 MPixels APS-C DSLR?
    That would be more meaningful in terms of similar sensors and lens sizes.
    There are many 3rd party lenses to choose from as well for Nikon/Canon DSLR which aren’t available for Fuji cameras.

    Cheers
    Thomas

    1. Hi Thomas, I can understand why you wonder that, I make the comparisons to full frames because I think this camera is direct competition with them despite having a cropped sensor. The quality of the sensor and lenses is better than the cropped sensors from Nikon and Sony, therefore I think it is a fair comparison for people to consider. If I only compared it to other cropped sensors I do not believe it would be taken as seriously as direct competition, but to each their own.

  12. Michael Paramonti

    The fuji is terrible compared to a d810 and sorry, but the weight comparison ist not really fair. Nikon 14-24 to Fuji 10-24mm and 55-200 to Nikon 70-200?? And don´t forget the 5 Batterys more for the Fuji..
    Even worse is the Fuji, if you using filters like POL or ND at Landscapes. It looks even more mashed..
    The labeling of the 10-24 is reflecting, if you using a POL with sunlight. Depending on the sun angle you could produce “lila flairs” or grids”, but Fuji ignores that topic and and keeps their customers for idiots.
    And at last, please have a look at prime lenses: The weight of Fuji 16mm is 345g and Nikon 20mm, 1.8 375g or the Nikon 50mm for 200€! You do not always have to use the Nikon “monster lenses” 😉 but the result is from another world..
    My experience with Fuji at Landscapes is over…

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